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Retaining sails and dropping anchors

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I thought I would throw my 2 cents in on this topic about the SM conference and the Dad.


I think both did not do things very well in handling this situation and both did things that I think are not out of line either.


I do fell that a SM should do everything possible to make time for a scout. However, I do not think he was that out of line in asking to postpone the conference a week. Sometimes things do get busy.


I feel that the Dad was way out of line in starting an argument over this. I feel that asking why this was postponed was something that the Dad should have done.


I had a situation when my son was getting his Star rank. He had finished all the requirements but had not gotten his SM conference or BOR. So I asked the Troops ASM for Advancement why. The reason he gave was he said that my son hadnt done a POR. I replied that he had been trained and working as a Den Chief. He said that he knew that but a Den chief wasnt really a real position for leadership. When I pushed the issue and said that it was in the handbook as a POR, he agreed and arranged his conference and BOR.

I would have blown this off to inexperience but the ASM had been in the Troop since he was 11 and become an adult leader when he was 18 and is now 48. So, after 37 years in scouting he had know idea that a Den Chief fulfilled a POR.


To get back on the topic of this thread, the one basic concept Ive learned and seen repeated on this forum about Retaining sails and dropping anchors is to take the time to find the best person for the position. All to often we jump at the first person that agrees to do the job instead of selecting and asking the best person suited for the job. I know have to agree that in Retaining sails and dropping anchors this is the best way.


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I don't know the full details about what sst3rd was busy doing.

I do know at times I have wished that Scouts did come without parents! But that might fall under the heading of not being kind.

One problem that I see we have, and by we I mean nearly all of us in Scouting is that we take on too much.

I know that I'm very guilty of asking people to do more and more, which is wrong of me.

We have Unit Commissioners that are so busy doing training's, asking for FOS contributions, covering camp promotions, and helping out with activities and advancement that they don't have time for unit service.

Of course sometimes you can't win for losing, or at least so it seems!!

When I became District Chairman, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to ask any unit leaders to serve on the District Committee. Selecting and training people that in a lot of cases had either no knowledge or what knowledge they did have of Scouting was from being a youth in the program, was tough and hard work. Worse still I messed up a couple of times and selected the wrong person.(Not just me but the nominating committee.) While so far no one has said it to my face, I have heard that I'm guilty of handing the District over to the "Suits".

Most of us have a very hard time saying No!

One great thing about Wood Badge and the Ticket is that it makes us think of what our (Yours or mine) Vision and Mission is.

I didn't ask unit leaders to serve on the District Committee, because I felt that they were doing the important job of delivering the program. That delivery is the most important role in Scouting. The other people; be they National, Regional, Council or District types are only there to support the program and the people in charge of delivering it.

Every now and then I think it's a good idea to stop and look at what we are doing and make sure that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

On a very personal note, when I did this I found that I was guilty of putting Scouting before my wife and family. I'm not sure about sails and anchors, but without them I'd be up the creek without a paddle.

I'll put the milk crate away now!!




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Making sails... much less making sails out of anchors... is not a skill I have. I know some of the wonderful BSA programs (Woodbadge, PTC, etc.) can go a long way to fanning one's passion for the BSA but I am not sure I could get any of the anchors I have known to go.


I'm a volunteer with an interest in youth, magic, computers, and a lot of other stuff. If I knew how to make sails and convert anchors, I'd probably be in a much higher paying job and in a lot of demand.


If ANYONE knew how to reliably accomplish this, they would be some of the highest paid and most demanded consultants on Earth. I have yet to hear of a motivational speaker or life coach that could turn someone around without the person's active assistance.




I am now solidly in Bob White's camp. If I know of an anchor that is sinking a unit and we can't seem to get around him or her after a reasonbable (but not protracted) period- I'm out of there.


I watched a troop suffer for 10 years with a couple terrible anchors in place- people that once were regarded as sails council wide. The troop rarely had more than 10 boys in that decade- and only 3 or 4 of our 50 or so Webelos crossed into it. No Eagles in 10 years, and only a few over 1st Class. Retention was terrible except for the sons of the leaders- and even they never advanced.


Many of the pack leaders, including me, offered to help in the nicest ways we possibly could. It was turned down. The one time I THOUGHT we had a plan in place and I went to the troop as a new 'ASM in training', I was ignored- not introduced to the troop, not given a single task, snubbed when I tried to help, etc.


At the same time, I discovered the troop leadership was saying some horrible things about the pack- especially our CM. The COR was reluctant to do anything because of the SM and ASM's roles in the CO.


We did not have a commish to talk to (another story), and were being bounced back and forth between districts, so no DE was going to go to bat for us. Heck- many years in a row they had too few boys to recharter but the DE would let them skate 'for just one year'- supposedly to protect the very low and historic unit numeral.


My son and I even joined again a few years later, with me as just a helpful parent and MB counsellor. Still a horrible pit, still the same leadership. Things were supposed to be different but they were definately not.



If the plug had been pulled on this unit- even if only by the DE doing his job and not rechartering them for the 3rd or 4th year in a row with low numbers- I have no doubt that some of these families would have found good troops and made Eagle years ago.


Some units can be saved- some cannot... at least, not by us!



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Reading this post reminds me of my son's first summer camp. I was on campstaff, and my 12 year old son was taking basketry from my Woodbadge Ticket Counselor (for those that haven't done WB, let's just say that the WTC helps with goals that you work on after the course)


I was sitting between the 2 of them, and we were all enjoying the shade, a cool soda, and just visiting. My son was working on his basket, oh and by the way, he was doing it wrong. I (the Assistant Camp Program Director) took as much of this as I could stand and finally took the project away from my son, undid the parts that he had done incorrectly, and was in the process of fixing the basket.


My buddy took off his ball cap, and proceeded to ignore G2SS... He hit me (with his hat) grabbed the project from me, stood up, looked at me, pointed at his chair, and said "Leave that boy alone! Sit and that chair and be happy!"


He undid the part of the project I had worked on, handed it back to my son and said "You know he means well... You're lucky to have a dad like this, just don't let him do that again."


Was this a problem? Not for me, nor my son. Was this kind? Did I mention we all laughed when he got in our new chairs? My son is still as proud as anyone of this basket (even if it was done incorrectly). He earned his badge, and is proud of being a 4th generation Eagle Scout.


I share this story to try and bring home that point that sometimes we do things that we know we shouldn't. When we see those things happen we need to try and correct them as best as we can, without shooting the messanger.


What do you do with anchors that don't want to be sails? We try and find areas that they'd love to work, where they have the skills and temprament for. I was once a COPE director, because the camp director needed one. I'm much more equiped to be more of support staff, and would love that chance to help. I think all of our jobs are to try and do the best we can for the boys. Those sorts that are in it for the glory, should be reminded that this is a volunteer organization, and that it is much more glamorous on the other side of the fence. Good luck with this one, it's hard.

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Madkins, while I can't say that I follow you into BW's camp, you (and BW) do bring up a point that extreme anchor cases should be dropped. You are also correct in that we are not necessarily equipped with the know-how to turn anchors into sails. This brings me back to my point that LPC_Thumper redirects to - the ability of working with people's strengths. Most people can and will do something that reflects positively on the program.


While we may certianly not possess the ability to change peoples attitudes habits, we are also probably not equipped to judge one's opinions and abilities against our own.


What I am getting to is who am I to judge whether someone is a true anchor, unless in extreme cases or if it is a blatant disregard for something that is BSA policy.


I have a leader who just doesn't want to have more than one meeting a month. He isn't trained but otherwise, he follows the program, is active in the committee, and his boys advance. Anchor or sail?


It is these "anchors" that I would like to push toward being (more of) a sail, not the extreme ones.


These are the

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Even salis need to be trimmed from time to time to work effectively. Scouters who are willing to develop and learn and search for the way back on course are not the folks who I refer to as anchors.


Not every adult should be in scouting, and certainly not in every position in scouting. To be honest we have scouts to train and develop, that's what we are here for. If a person is unwilling to learn and follow the program then no amount of coaching and mentoring will turn him into a worthwhile sail. If he or she won't learn and embrace the methods and the procedures of scouting, cut thenm loose! They will steal your time and energy from the people you are there to serve, the scouts.

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I don't see LPC as an anchor in any way- because he saw the glitch, saw his strengths, and made changes.


To me, an anchor is the person who is actively resisting changing their erroneous and hurtful ways. I have seen few anchors (at work or in Scouts) change.


The glitch in the 'anchors and sails' bit is that MOST people are other parts of the ship, not necessarily pulling it along, but not holding it back, either. Some of these folk can indeed be put to better use that allows their skills and interests to more fully blossom. Others may develop into anchors. Yet others (most?) are mostly there to help in some small way but their real loves lie elsewhere.

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Here's a little book that if you haven't read, you may want to get. "The Leadership Pill" by Ken Blanchard. Most of us can get through it in about an hour, but it is an hour that won't be wasted.

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There are many types of anchors, which is only part of the ground tackle,there is the anchor cables (chains), in the right combination it works, or just as sails there are so many types; just as there are persons in scouting, the knowledge of being able to uses the right combination to achive the best results is the trick.

Thru training, example, pratice, and leadership the crew is formed, there is a program.

As for sinking , woman and children first. Before you put anyone over the side, you better make sure that the ship is sinking, and that nothing can be done to save her.Was an SOS or MAYDAY sent out ?

Can she be beached ? As for being an ASM/Second Mate are you relieving the Captain of his/her command , or just jumping ship? Not all commands are royal navys, nor are they Mchales Navies either; In starting up a new unit, are you going to be the CO /COR that's part of the program. Starting with a good keel , in building your ship, or are you looking just for command of your own. Get the knowledge/training, needed for command, time in helps too.


What is the mission of the ship and crew? Remeber this is boys led !What happen to the Patrol method? why not forget sails and anchors for awhile stay with a paddle or oar ,they work ;paddle your own canoe, row your own boat; see what happens. Set the example scull(ing) your boat ( Later on you can add a drummer and whips)Eye patches come later.


Can you make one walk the plank, or will they just say ashore once the the ship is ( shipshape) Just love these Metaphors

There are Sea Anchors too, and Storm Oil....

I want a Steam power at least.SPEED.

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So, what do you do when you feel that you are surrounded by anchors?


Ive been involved with adult scout leaders who dont know the program and are not willing to learn, adult scout leaders who are trained and know the program but do not want to use parts of it, adult scout leaders who want to known as Scouters, but do not want to put effort into the program and who dont want to step down and adult scout leaders who just refuse to follow the program.


Go to roundtable and training to learn more. Ive taken all the basic training. All the supplemental training offered (Wood Badge, Trainers Development, etc.) has been canceled due to not enough participants. Our Districts roundtable does not discuss how to improve our programs but just cover MBs (and will for the next 1 years). I would love to get involved there and have taken Roundtable Commissioners training but since I am not one of the old timers who run our district (and still along way from being one), I will never be asked.


I have yet to meet a CO that wants to involved with the unit they charter. I know there out there, but these are the LDS and strong religious based units and none that I have met.


I have been told to associate with people who have the same outlook as myself. I cant seem find a Troop that is close to me that understands and uses the patrol method. DE could only point to one Troop in the district, hour drive away, which has a healthy program and really understands the patrol method. (also the biggest, most active Troop in the District)


Go to a Unit Commissioner for help. He just sends me to the DE.


Find a struggling troop that needs help. Our District has no struggling troops, just ask the troops leaders. Every troop I talked with has told me they run a great program its just cant they get kids interested in joining or staying in the program.


Start a Unit. DE was real gung-ho when I talked with him about starting a new unit and I thought I had a CO. But, when this CO fell though, he has been unresponsive when asking him to help me locate a CO willing to fulfill its shared responsibility. Im still working on this but it looks like I will have to do everything from finding a CO to putting together a Committee to recruiting members if I want to make this happen


Even my spouse cant understand why I have a problem with Troops not following the program as no one else seems to mind. (Actually, I have had other say things to me but they were not willing to speak out or put any effort into trying to make a change).


What to do? Drop out? Shut up and except the poor programs Im finding? Put a huge effort into trying to start a unit that Im not sure if I will have any support for?


At this point Im not sure what the future is going to hold.


All I know is that my son, who will be 14 in Oct. is being coming bored with Scouts. He is not interested in going camping or outings anymore and has asked me to help him make Eagle as fast as he can. He has expressed interest in a Venturing Crew but since we have no active Crews in our District, I will have to try to start one (or travel some distance to find an active one).



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After reading your last reply, wow.. Lets look at the whole picture.

1) It seems as your son is having second thoughts on scouting,"He is not interested in going camping or outings anymore and has asked me to help him make Eagle as fast" Why are you involved in scouting, is it for your son? or for yourself? or both? If your son drops out will you follow?

2)" What to do? Drop out? Shut up and except the poor programs Im finding? Put a huge effort into trying to start a unit that Im not sure if I will have any support for? " "am also curious about going about doing this when starting a new unit" " interest in a Venturing Crew but since we have no active Crews in our District, I will have to try to start one " Is this the answer? It could be! Is there interest with your sons lads? What do you know of the venturing program? Do you belong to any group as the AL, VFW, KC,Lions Club ,etc...and if so are they interested in becoming a Charter Organization and you the COR ?

3) Have you try the patrol method within your own troop? Take a patrol offer them , their freedom to act as a patrol, help them out , where there is a need, as for trasportation, etc... offer subjestions on what they could do as a patrol: how about deep sea fishing, then a clam bake to end summer, cross-country sking, open their minds . Supply them with the resources on how to be and act using the patrol method. This could be another way within your own troop to cause a change for the better.

4)"Our District has no struggling troops, just ask the troops leaders. Every troop I talked with has told me they run a great program " what a grand district you reside in("its just cant they get kids interested in joining or staying in the program.)"Start small work within, the boys will follow what they want.It take time and a great deal of effort. If there is no support in the District, what about the Council?

5) As for those old timers, there no room at the inn for you, find their weakness, but are you sure that you want to be involve in that group, do you like beating your head with a rock. "but do not want to put effort into the program and who dont want to step down and adult scout leaders who just refuse to follow the program."

"I would love to get involved there and have taken Roundtable Commissioners training but since I am not one of the old timers who run our district (and still along way from being one), I will never be asked" So you are going to stick around for awhile then?

One Step at a Time! Best of Luck try not to change the world all at once.



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CNY (and Seabear)...


I was a part of a mega-troop, that in the past had been truely magnificent. Then they got a SM who ran the unit in a way that was not immediately obvious. It still LOOKED like it was boy-ran, but the adults were doing a lot of the work and were not seeing it. No patrol method, no fun and innovative programs, MB classes during meetings... but still kicking out an Eagle every few months like clockwork.


The SM left and they looked for a new one. They had nearly a dozen ASM's and long-time committee members, but they chose me- and all I wanted to do was to be an ASM long enough to learn the unit and stop being considered an outsider.


I talked to the CC about it and what I thought was going on, and had the CC's support and the verbal support of the committee and other ASMs. We were going back to patrol method- most of these guys did not even know their patrol names.


Long story short- I did indeed NOT have the full support of the old guard who liked things the way they were going, the patrols never gelled, the boys never expressed an interest in anything vaguely interesting, and I left after a painful year. It remains one of my worse years in my life ever.





I am reminded of the old arguements about our kids hanging out with the wrong crowd. Some parents firmly believe that it is OK because THEIR child might help the whole group turn out better... a great thought but rarely the reality!




So, CNY, what do you do?


Had I to do over again, I would have said no to the mega-unit (I KNEW it was a mistake to enroll there but my son really liked it!), and gone with my first instincts and enrolled my son in a decent smaller unit closer to home that had a solid, but not perfect, rep.


If there were problems, I would have joined the committee or adult leadership- where ever would have been the best fit, and tried to help them tackle them one by one, working with group consensus.


I think you need to make a decision- either find a good unit, or find one you can help with your skills and interests, and is willing to be changed- even if only slowly. If you stick, choose your battles and aim for incremental change until the 'sea winds' are with you- then go for big differences.




As far as the classic 'why are you here' question, the obvious answer is that we volunteer because it fits a need within us. We wnat to belong to a bigger group with lofty goals. In the BSA, we can fulfill personal needs AND help a lot of other people as well!


Saying we are here for our sons or other boys is accurate, but tends to be superficial. As Bob White has pointed out, the BSA needs good leadership. If we are willing to try to provide it, then surely we deserve ot have a good time at the same time?





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